(Dear Readers, this is not a usual art related post. If you read my blog looking for an image, well, you may want to skip this one. Thanks for following along, next post will be about my newest commission, a dog portrait of Elton the wonder cur!)
Pushing the Reset Button
When an electrical system has an overload of current, a circuit is tripped, effectively breaking the connection of electrical power to the receiving agent. Be it a motor or a relay, the object no longer has access to current and thus maintains its ability to function. Without the tripped circuit, too much amperage can disable the object, rendering it broken or useless. After the power surge, one can reconnect safely to the electrical source by pushing a reset button.
And so it happened to me. Metaphorically, of course.
On Sunday, March 13th my head exploded violently. Sudden nausea, vomiting and pain which felt like I’d been shot. It’s called a thunderclap migraine episode, and usually signifies something very, very bad. The next day, my head still aching, I did some internet research and learned more about this phenomenon. I was ignorant about migraines as I had never had one before, I rarely get headaches for that matter. I called my physician about it and she promptly sent me to the hospital for a CT scan. It was inconclusive, no hemorrhaging. Was there an aneurism waiting to go off? Only a MRI would show. I didn’t have to do it, but the on call doctor said, (when I asked what would she do) that she would. “For peace of mind.”
Now, I know my busy mind, my creative-worrying mind, my alarmist mind… so I agreed. I needed that peace of mind. Big time. I was wheeled back down to imaging for another test after which I was wheeled back to the emergency room to wait. The room was darkened and quiet. I had no reception, so my phone could not entertain nor inform. I told my husband who was out of town working, that I was driving myself to the ER under doctors orders. That was the last he heard from me until later that afternoon when I was released. He was going to have to wait as well.
In the meanwhile, I started my second solo wait. I didn’t mind, I had wanted to be alone. I didn’t want to be thinking about anyone else during that time. I disobeyed doctor’s orders by driving myself in; the idea of calling a neighbor then corralling my thoughts about how I was messing up their day, their schedule, their whatever…. silly of me, yes, but I wanted that space. I didn’t want to allay anyone’s fears or concerns or have them reassure me and mine. Because as odd as this sounds, I didn’t have any. To worry is to think about the future. To get creative with what could happen, to what my life would be like when they gave me the news, whatever the news may be. I just wanted to focus on the moment and I needed to be alone in order to keep my focus.
Lately I’ve been working on that busy, creative mind of mine. Getting a handle on all it’s wild ways… the over thinking, the catastrophizing, the micro-manager of my life. It has been said that worrying is a waste of imagination. Well, in my case, I seem to be blessed with a massive supply of imagination. I often have to dial down the imagining; worry and talking myself out of worrying is an Olympic sport. And yes, it is fucking exhausting at times. In the previous months I had been subjecting my mind to a barrage of high voltage imaginative current… a continuous assault of intense thought, worry and mental gymnastics.
I finally found something that seemed to work like a surge protector, or maybe more like a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlet. It came to me as a book, The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle. I heard about it in January but it took me a month to get my hands on a copy. There is so much to this book, I don’t want to get into it, read it for yourself if you feel intrigued, but the main premise is a simple one: now is all there is. If you can focus your mind on being here, being present in the now, then you can erase your worries, your ruminating, your anxiety and depression which are all based on the future or the past. I loved Be Here Now by Ram Dass, which spoke to my 20 year old self quite deeply. But The Power of Now made more sense to my older self, it has affected me in a powerful way.
As I lay in the curtained cubicle of the Emergency Room, I focused on my breath. On listening to the sounds around me. Not thinking about “what if”. I just focused on being there, in the room, being alert, aware and waited. Which was all I could do… just wait. I don’t know how long I waited, time seemed to stand still, though I do know I was there for well over 3 hours. And then the waiting was over.
The doctor beamed back into the room. They found nothing. No enlarged vessels, no aneurysm, no tumor, no bleeding, nothing abnormal. The MRI was clean! The sudden migraine? A fluke, who knows? But whatever it was, I made her day and I was cleared to go. The nurse was all smiles. He said, “We give people bad news all the time. They come in here with a massive headache like that and then we see something. Usually not good. I’m so happy for you!”
I couldn’t get out of there fast enough… out into the cloudy skies. The sun broke through a gap as I walked back to my car, pausing on the way for an ambulance to pass. Someone else on their way to bad news perhaps, but not me. Not today.
I’ve been thinking about this moment for the past few weeks. I finished my Eckhart Tolle book and started another. I’ve watched his videos on Youtube, perused his website. Learned more about him and how he’s met with the Dali Lama, worked with Ram Dass, been interviewed by Oprah for her Super Soul series. I had never heard about him before this January and he’d been teaching these universal truths for years and moving in some pretty famous circles. I keep thinking about a circuit breaker… how I had felt overwhelmed and how learning about Tolle’s teachings gave me a respite from all that high wattage.
I’m not the same person I was before. I am, but I’m not. Maybe in an alternate reality I did have a brain aneurysm and was changed. How imaginative of me! But in this reality, I got to walk out of there with all my electrical parts in good working order, that surge didn’t fry my circuits. Now I can push that reset button. And start all over again.